Bali Gay Travel
wolfyy’s Bali gay travel guide to the best hotels, where to stay, gay bars & local culture.
The Gay Travel Experience: Bali, Indonesia
Impressive tranquility, famous countryside attractions, and an accepting culture are just a few reasons why gay travelers love Bali. It’s easy to see why this tropical paradise is a hugely popular winter gay travel destination. Bali is heaven on Earth!
Gay life in Bali is more prevalent than anywhere else in Indonesia. But why? Well, it has to do with the local religion. The people of this whimsical Southeast Asian island practice Hinduism, so gay life here fares much better.
Locals specifically practice Balinese Hinduism, called Agama Hindu Dharma. The iconic charming religious offerings these people place on the streets and in their homes are beyond beautiful.
Bali has experienced explosive tourism over the past decade and it is no longer an island known to few. For context, Bali is building a brand-new airport to cope with the intense traffic around Denpasar.
Knowing this, you should tread carefully to avoid tourist traps and use this guide to explore the best of Bali.
You can still visit authentic attractions in Bali. In this gay guide I’ll cover where you should stay, lesser-known places to visit and some must-see attractions that LGBT tourists love.
Gay Bali: Hotels & Where to Stay
Before choosing a place to stay in Bali, remember that you will arrive at Denpasar Airport toward the south of the island. The majority of tourism concentrates here.
Below I’ll cover where to stay in south Bali, followed by central and northern Bali hotels. Each of these areas has a completely different vibe.
Where to Stay in South Bali
Hotels in Jimbaran are my top recommendation for south Bali. The Jimbaran area is quieter and comprised mainly of resorts. Beaches are much more tranquil compared to Kuta to the north.
The Four Seasons Jimbaran was without a doubt one of the most magical hotels I have ever experienced. I stayed a few nights at the Four Seasons while in south Bali.
They have every single detail perfected for their guests. It made for quite a majestic setting for me my boyfriend Michael on our first vacation as a couple.
Downtown Kuta hotels are popular with budget travelers. This area has some of the cheapest hotels in Bali. I stayed in Kuta for a few days while exploring the southern part of the island.
I must warn you though-Kuta is a tourist center and it is not so authentic. It takes a lot for me to dislike an area, but walking around Kuta was incredibly frustrating.
Constantly bombarded by men asking if I wanted to rent a motorbike or get a massage, I found myself avoiding the town center at all costs.
Guesthouses & Resorts in North/Central Bali
Ubud is a fantastic and hugely popular place to stay in central Bali. You can find relative seclusion here, with the convenience of a vibrant central town.
I stayed at an adorable guest house in Ubud. While the exact place isn’t available anymore, similar accommodations in the area are super affordable and only a five-minute walk to the town’s main road.
If I had more time, I would have spent it further north on the island. I’d definitely book one of those jaw-dropping retreats in Kubutambahan that completely integrate with the natural surroundings.
Kubutambahan vacation rentals are another fantastic options to find beautiful and authentic Balinese accommodations in the north of the island.
Given north Bali is harder to get to, it is far less traveled, perfect for an authentic and serene place to stay.
Bali Gay Travel Experiences
Visit one of the larger temples near you in the early evening if you happen to be in Bali during a full moon or new moon. You’ll experience some large local celebrations during which women dress up in even more gorgeous traditional Balinese outfits. Cheerful locals flood the streets!
Cruise Around On A Motorbike
I absolutely loved hopping on a motorbike and driving as much of Bali as I could. This is a super cute idea for gay couples in Bali. Grab your lover and take in the views of a scenic drive. The farther north you go, the more romantic it will be.
Things to Do in South Bali (& What to Avoid)
Head to Dewi Sri Food Center for cheap, tasty local food! This place is filled with locals each evening. Try some pork belly, Chicken Satay, and other Southeast Asian mainstays.
South Bali Beaches (And Ones to Avoid)
Jimbaran Bay is the go-to spot for beachgoers in south Bali. Full transparency: the water is not blue! Although there’s nothing wrong with the beaches here in the least, I would not say that Bali tops the list of best beach destinations.
Gay travelers will be much happier making good use of a private pool in their hotel or resort. This is what we’re all yearning for, right? Get one of those floating breakfast trays and treat yourself like a queen!
Avoid Kuta Beach at all costs. I truly wonder why tourists come here. It is filled with trash and aggressive children trying to sell bracelets.
Instead, go to Pantai Plix, a spot where the locals hang! About 30 minutes south of Kuta, you can enjoy this small cliff with a serene view.
Pantai Plix is not swimmable because waves crash along a rock formation. However, the algae and ponds of water in the sand are very cool! Although it’s a little gritty and treacherous, it’s definitely an authentic experience.
Things to Do in Ubud & Central Bali
Tegalalang Rice Terrace
Bali rice terraces are a staple of touring the island. I loved visiting Tegalalang Rice Terrace, a 20-minute drive north of the Ubud town center. Stunning can’t even describe this place, which is probably why everyone makes a point to visit.
Take A Coffee Break at Namaskara
I quickly became a regular at Namaskara Coffee, an absolutely adorable café in Central Ubud. They have authentic Balinese food, fast wi-fi, and stellar cappuccinos. Definitely order the red sticky rice in hot coconut milk with mango & banana. I got it three days in a row!
Browse Handcrafted Furniture
Central Bali is home to hundreds of wood carving and handcrafted-furniture shops. Balinese wood carving goes back many centuries, too. It’s a huge tradition in the Ubud region. There’s no better memento for a gay couple than a handcrafted piece from Ubud!
Shopping in Ubud
There are many boutique shops in Central Ubud selling high-quality clothing and often decorative home items. I grabbed some awesome shorts from Lost In Paradise.
Bali Gay Bars
You’ll find most nightlife, including the gay bars, clustered together on a street called Jalan Camplung Tanduk. This area is just north of downtown Kuta. All three officially gay establishments on the island are all adjacent to one another.
I personally didn’t visit the Bali gay bars since there was such heavy rain every night (I visited during the wet season). If you try any of them, send me an email noting how they were!
I do know, however, that the gay bars in Bali are not exactly the most popular with tourists. So if you’re headed to one, I’d expect you encounter mostly locals.
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Bali Gay Travel Tips
Sharing a bed in a single room should be no problem for gay couples in Bali. Many resorts, especially western hotels, will recognize and accommodate you as they would anyone else.
Bali is predominantly a cash-only society (at least as of 2018 when I visited). I actually learned this the hard way after losing my debit card. Especially while in Ubud and the north of the island, make sure you have enough cash handy and ideally carry a backup debit card.
The Best Season for Bali Gay Travel?
I visited Bali during the rainy season and I still loved it! The wet season in Bali is from October to April. The rest of the months are relatively dry. Even during the wet season, there are still some clear days.
My favorite thing about the Bali rainy season was the nightly thunderstorms. I fell asleep to calming thunder every single night. If you are short on time, it’s probably best to visit during the dry season, as some days can be too rainy for long bouts of exploring.
If you can afford to spend more time in Bali, the rainy season is perfectly fine. Mornings in the rainy season are pretty much always rain-free. After sunset, rain is common.
Buy a durable rain-proof poncho before your trip. This will definitely come in handy. Locals carry these everywhere and o many tourists get caught without them!
Local Religious Offerings
Locals create precious offerings called Canang sari every day to show gratitude. Without a doubt, you will see them everywhere around Bali.
They are commonly filled with flowers, rice, fruit, and sometimes coins. People typically place them three times a day! Ask a taxi driver about how they make them. It’s a great conversation starter!
Using Taxis in Bali
When getting a taxi at the airport, use the curbside registered local taxi stand. They will give you the cheapest price. The storefront inside the airport will charge you triple the fair price and the local guys standing by the exit will charge you at least double.
Just for reference, a ride from Jimbaran/Denpasar to Ubud cost me 300,000 Rupiah (in 2018) and it is about an hour and 30-minute drive, depending on traffic. A ride from the airport to Jimbaran should be 150,000.
Indonesia Gay Life
Broadly, Indonesia is a difficult country for LGBT people to live in, and the situation is only getting worse. Although there are no specific laws against same-sex sexual relations in the majority of the country, the government is actively attempting to criminalize it.
There are no protections in place for the gay community in Indonesia and coming out as gay presents personal social challenges for many individuals.
The Aceh and Palembang local governments specifically criminalize homosexuality, as they operate under stricter local Islamic law. These areas of Indonesia are becoming increasingly harsh as they pass laws that criminalize the LGBT community. Local Islamic organizations seek out and prosecute any homosexual activity.
Indonesian cities such as Jakarta experience numerous raids on places where gay individuals are thought to congregate. Dozens were detained in 2020 in a raid of a Jakarta gay party. Many LGBT citizens face arrests and harsh punishments for being themselves.
Human rights organizations rightly denounced the many atrocities involving LGBT citizens that have taken place in Indonesia over recent years.
Bali specifically is not anti-gay. As mentioned at the beginning of this guide, people here have much more liberal beliefs, stemming from their Balinese-Hindu practices.
Although the Indonesian government still does not provide any specific discrimination protections, the gay community is well-tolerated in Bali.
I hope you’ve found this Bali gay travel guide useful! Don’t forget to subscribe to wolfyy for more of the latest gay travel information & special travel invitations.